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April 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) is checked by trainer Gary Vitti after he hurt his left knee after being fouled by Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) in the first half of the game at the Staples Center. Lakers won 118-116. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Could Kobe's Absence Be A Blessing In Disguise?

The conventional wisdom is that Kobe’s injury has ended the Lakers’ season.  Further, the conventional wisdom says that even if the Lakers clinch a playoff spot with a win on Wednesday, they’ll probably lose in the first round to either the Spurs or the Thunder.

The LA-Times prophesied that “[Kobe Bryant] has crumbled, and, for now, basketball’s greatest franchise will crumble with him.”

In another article, the LA-Times went on to say that “without Bryant, the Lakers may also finish an epically disappointing 2012-13 season without a playoff berth”.

Why Kobe’s absence might actually be good for the Lakers (God forbid anybody suggest such a thing)?

  • He’s not a great shooter.  Yes, the degree of difficulty on many of his shots is often very large, but all too often, Kobe takes ridiculous off-balance fall-aways when he could have passed the ball for a better shot.  It’s not that he doesn’t make a decent chunk of his shots, it’s that his decision-making is often not in the best interest of the team.
  • For example, in this Youtube video, many times he has to take a bad shot because the game clock is winding down — but there are a number of times where he doesn’t pass the ball when there are wide-open shooters or when he takes a fall-away jumper against Russell Westbrook.

  • Here’s his shot chart this year.  One highlight: 28.57% from the left three point line???

  • Kobe takes way too many bad shots — his true shooting percentage is 55.6%.  This is roughly the true shooting percentage of Steve Blake (54.6%),  Earl Clark (54.6%), Antawn Jamison (55.2%), and Metta World Peace (52.2%).

Bad shots are essentially wasted possessions.  And wasted possessions invariably lead to losses.  While Kobe is a great player, he takes too many bad shots — and while many times his shot selection is dictated by situational pressures (i.e. Kobe gets the ball when the shot clock is about to expire) the shots Kobe chooses (like fall-away jumpers) are often bad ones.  In addition, when Kobe creates by penetrating into the lane, more often than not (though this has been less true this season), he will look for his own shot rather than passing to find a better shot.

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